by Chris Ballard
Originally published in Sports Illustrated on September 26, 2011
It's been 15 months since Jill Costello lost a yearlong struggle with lung cancer (SI, Nov. 29, 2010). In her final months she helped lead the Cal rowing team to second place at nationals, and since then her courage and strength have continued to inspire.
Shortly after her death Costello's friends and teammates founded Jill's Legacy. The nonprofit funds research through grants it receives and a series of fund-raisers, including an annual Jog for Jill in Berkeley. In addition, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, for which Costello worked, holds a series of events partly in her honor. The most recent, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Sunday, drew 2,000 people and raised more than $300,000.
In May, the Big Row between Cal and Stanford was renamed the Jill Row, and in November she will be inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame. But her family continues to struggle with the idea that a healthy, nonsmoking 21-year-old could die from lung cancer. "It doesn't get easier to keep reliving it," says her father, Jim Costello, "but you put on the best face you can because you know that's what she wanted. That's why people still come out for her—they saw the spirit she had."